“City lights : a new vision of the urban experience, a place of power and possibility for women.”
“This season I wanted to propose a new woman, a woman with power and energy in a very definite way.”
“I wanted to pursue powerful tailoring, to offer another reality, another function.”
Please allow me to be very blunt: With this fall/winter collection, Dior and Raf Simons have finally become one. While the past few seasons have been a bit uncomfortable as Raf settled in, removed the lingering rifts from John Galliano’s tenure, and tried to secure his own footing within the label, this collection marks the first time one really gets a strong sense that not only does Simons fully understand the Dior aesthetic, he knows how to improve upon it and make it even stronger.
This is, as always, a very large collection, organized neatly in sections, and quite graciously Raf sent several of the looks down two at a time so that we wouldn’t still be sitting there an hour from now. For those who love classic Dior tailoring, you are not going to be the least bit disappointed. The first several looks down the runway are pure Dior top to bottom, with double-breasted suit separates impeccably tailored and fitted both in skirts and dresses. Black, of course, will always be a staple of the brand, but there are also delicious versions in maroon and an aqua-marine. What one notices as much as the suits, however, is the overcoats with which they are paired. Short-sleeved or sleeveless is the call for this season, with above-the-elbow opera gloves keeping one’s arms from going numb. The coats were an indicator of things to come: lace-up cinching on the sides and bright colors that started with peach, then pink, blue, and a very bright yellow. Go ahead and adjust your eyes now, you’re going to see a lot of those colors.
Simons then moves into a section of dresses, many still very finely tailored with the suit styled jacket, but with brighter colored dresses underneath. Many came with very long and broad scarves while others had quilted tops that looked fluffy and warm. Where Simons really shines, though, and puts his definitive stamp on Dior for all time, is with the layered dresses in contrasting bright colors. He has so many variations on this theme I won’t take the time to describe them all, but there are some strong points: Slits in the skirt are tightly hemmed and embellished with extremely detailed bead work at the thigh. The dresses themselves almost come off as casual wear, but that one refining touch lets you know these dresses are not meant for playing around. The outer layer plunges deep and daring, while the foundation layer keeps things modest and at times adds a sense of sportiness to the look. Fabrics and textures contrast between the two pieces as much as do the colors. Pink and green certainly don’t sound like they’d match well, but Raf puts them together with marvelous success.
More takes on the suit look follow, and with that some variations on classic Dior skirt looks. When Raf returns to the dresses, he does a full take on the lace-up styling we saw earlier in the overcoats. Here, they can run all the way up the side or gather the front, or pieces of both. As he moves into evening gowns, we see more classic Dior looks in bright colors and quilted for texture, giving them a look that is at once new and still a strong sense of the familiar. Finally, he closes the set with t-shirt styled dresses under sheer beaded overlays. The contrast of casual vs. formal is striking and probably not one that everyone will like, but then, it probably shouldn’t be. Collections that receive unanimous praise are too often unanimously forgotten.
‘I am attracted to the urban world and environment,’ Simons mused some more, ‘not just to the leisured world of ‘the moment’ – that world of the event or party. The Dior woman inhabits both.’
Dior has always been a label of refinement, and it always will be, but with this collection Raf Simons brings that refinement to a more practical and obtainable level, one that women everywhere can have and wear and enjoy. This is now the look of Dior. Enjoy.